Chatbots: the virtual assistants that improve customer satisfaction

6 min

Can a recorded voice or a written sentence convey the same human warmth? Modern software is getting very close to our speech by recreating intonations similar to those emitted by vocal cords. But in reality, the goal of virtual assistants is not to emulate a person’s tone of voice but their function. Intelligent chatbots lend themselves to making internal automation interfaces more agile, but at the same time, they can be exploited to provide immediate responses to customers, thus improving customer satisfaction. Let’s see how.

Using chatbot to improve customer satisfaction

Virtual assistants facilitate interactions between the company and current or potential customers by automating specific steps such as first contact requests or frequently asked questions (FAQs).

When users contact a company, they usually do so because:

  • they need information: additional details they can’t find on the site; they want to customize the product/service; or they want to request an appointment. Potential customers often ask for this type of contact.
  • they need technical, administrative support: the product is faulty or can’t access the service; or, they have difficulty completing the payment. Typically, at this stage, users are already our customers.

The questions that fall into these categories are very similar to each other. Or rather, a company often answers questions that are repeated. In this case, automation could provide standard answers that solve the customer’s problem while optimizing time and resources. In fact, without a virtual assistant, regardless of the type of question, users will have to wait their turn or only get an answer during office hours. On the other hand, when we use a chatbot, the virtual assistant responds h24 7/7 and the customer service workload is greatly reduced.

Potential customers are much more likely to buy from a company that responds instantly to their inquiries. Why? For a psychological reason: listening and immediate response are two characteristics that calm people down and make them feel pampered. This creates the perfect context for finalizing a purchase. In addition, getting an answer in a short time makes the customer feel satisfied regardless of the outcome of the chat. Even if the solution is not what they were looking for, they will still have an excellent opinion of the company.

What to do, however, with questions that require detailed answers? Today, many companies choose hybrid chats. That is, they offer the first contact with a virtual agent, and when the discourse becomes more complex, the user continues the conversation with a human resource.

To get an even clearer picture, let’s see what types of chatbots can play the role of online assistants.

Chatbot rule-based vs AI Chatbot

What is a chatbot, and how does it work?

The word bot is short for robot, which, in computer language, indicates the ability of a program to repeat actions automatically. When this function is used to provide pre-programmed responses in an online messaging service, we are talking about chatbots.

Basically, a chatbot is a tool that enables an online conversation between a real user and a virtual robot. If placed within a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) context, it can be used internally to reduce the execution time of frequent actions. Or, it can offer support in managing conversations between the company and its potential or existing customers.

When structuring a flow that simulates a conversation between the company and an external user, it’s important to know the latter’s needs and the possible questions they might ask about our solution. In reality, if we are not a startup, we already know the most frequent questions we are asked, such as: what is the price of the product/service? How can we make a reservation? How does an item work? These might be a good starting point to create a flow.

Chatbots with and without Artificial Intelligence: what’s the difference?

In this article, we won’t go into the technical details of setting up a chatbot, but we will focus on how a virtual assistant works and the activities that increase customer satisfaction.

The question to ask yourself before setting up a chatbot is: what is my goal? What will the virtual assistant have to do? For example, if the plan will have to be to attract new customers, it is a case of placing it in the landing place of our marketing campaigns. On the other hand, if we want the first interaction of a potential customer to be our site, it’s worth putting the chatbot on the home page. Its role will be to direct the user to the path already decided in the strategic phase.

The second step is to choose whether to implement a rule-based chatbot or equip it with Artificial Intelligence. What’s the difference? Rule-based chatbots are deterministic, making them less versatile as they only work if they receive a specific command. On the other hand, intelligent chatbots are equipped with AI and, therefore, skilled in Natural Language Processing. They can, therefore, learn from the conversation with the user and provide more elaborate responses.

Example of rule-based chatbot

If our company is in the healthcare business, it could benefit from a rule-based chatbot that handles medical bookings automatically.

Here’s a hypothetical dialogue, “Hi, would you like to book a specialist visit?” “YES/ NO.” The user couldn’t type a personal answer but will have to choose one of two commands. If the answer is yes, the next question could be, “What visit do you need?” “Here is a list of services.” Again, the user will need to click on the command related to the service. This type of interaction is predetermined, whether it’s a chat or a recorded voice on the phone, so the user will only be able to follow the path already outlined that will lead them to the visit booking.

This type of chatbot is useful when the user’s path is simple and does not involve articulated or variable responses that could compromise the achievement of the goal.

Chatbots offer numerous benefits, including: immediate responses h24 7/7, automation of repetitive tasks, and increased consumer satisfaction Click To Tweet

The Artificial Intelligence of Bots

Artificial Intelligence has taken virtual chats a big step forward, making them much less fake and cold. In the consumer market, many restaurants use intelligent chatbots to send out menus and take orders, but also e-commerce that helps the user choose an outfit online, just like a salesperson would. This is because, through Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning, the smart agent can provide a wide variety of responses, which go beyond those pre-set in the programming phase.

As with humans, experience helps to improve. Bots, equipped with Artificial Intelligence, can be used for even more complex tasks and sentiment analysis or direct site visitors to take a specific path. Let’s clarify this with an example.

An example of an intelligent chatbot

Let’s take the same example of booking a specialist visit. In this case, however, the user will be conversing with an intelligent virtual assistant.

Now, let’s imagine that the conversation takes place via chat:
– Virtual Assistant: “Hello, how can I help you?”
– User: ” Hello, I would have to book a visit with a specialist.”
The software, through Natural Language Processing, reads the keywords “Book” “Visit” “Specialist” and directs the user to the reservation.
– Virtual assistant: “What is the name of the specialist?”
– User: ” Dr. XY”
– Virtual Assistant: “Here is Dr. XY’s schedule. Choose the availability you prefer.”

Once users chose a date, they achieved their goal. This automated interaction allowed the customer to get a specialist visit in no time and the healthcare facility to acquire a new patient. Thus, the previously dealt with booking resources can devote themselves to solving complex problems that cannot be standardized.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Which chatbot to pick?

In reality, there is no universally best choice because it all depends on the budget we have available and the goal we want to achieve. Indeed, AI greatly improves the interaction between the virtual assistant and the real user. First of all, because it reduces the steps needed to achieve the goal and, moreover, it provides precise and personalized answers. Alexa is a perfect example of an intelligent virtual assistant that can interact with people and other connected devices. But if you have limited economic resources to devote to an AI project, even a rule-based chatbot can offer valuable support to streamline processes. The important thing is to be clear: wait time is a key variable for the customer. Scheduling an automated flow is the most effective solution to turn a potential customer into a loyal consumer if we can’t hire resources.

Concluding the discussion on which chatbot to choose, it is vital to consider how digital technologies such as AI are shaping our future. For a deeper analysis of these topics and to understand how technological innovations are impacting businesses and society at large, we recommend reading the book ‘Toward a Post-Digital Society: Where Digital Evolution Meets People’s Revolution’.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!